History of the SPX Dance Program
The St. Pius X Dance Program began in the fall of 1985 under the direction of Lynn Fleetwood Dukes. For the first two years of her career at St. Pius X, she taught two classes. The curriculum consisted of ballet and musical theater jazz, and the classes were divided into one beginner level and one intermediate/advanced level course. The original dance classes worked with the drama program and performed in the musicals. In 1988, another level was established solely for advanced dancers. Student interest continued to increase, and in 1990 a fourth dance class was added. Upon Lynn’s departure in 1992, she had developed four dance classes (1 beginner, 2 intermediate and 1 advanced), started a visiting artist series and incorporated her dancers into several musicals such as Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, and The Boyfriend.
Amy Walker Koulovatos became the director in the fall of 1992. She continued the further development of the program until the spring of 1998. Mrs. “K”, as her students called her, had a marley floor installed in the dance room and on stage, and she became a full time faculty member in 1993. The levels changed to their current names of Dance I, Dance II, and Dance III. Also in 1993, the St. Pius X Dance Company was established. The Company is comprised of the most advanced dancers in our school community. Company members must enter through an audition process and are required to additionally train outside of school. Dance students performed in fall and spring Arts Festivals along with other visual artists and performers from the theater program, band and choir. Due to the increased number of students enrolled in dance classes and tremendous support and interest from the community, the first annual Spring Dance Concert was held in 1995.
In the fall of 1998, Lisa Martin O’Connor became the new director of the program. She has continued to train the students in ballet and jazz. She has also developed the curriculum to include the study of modern dance, history, and choreography. Students are also taught stretch and conditioning exercises based on the principles of Pilates and yoga. Mrs. O’Connor has further developed the visiting artist series by including master classes in ballet, jazz, modern, and choreography for the St. Pius X Dance Company, Dance III and Dance II classes. Students also experience workshops in choreography and injury prevention. The Spring Dance Concert has gained great popularity and now requires 4 performances! Additionally, the SPX Dance Company performs in school assemblies, Open House, Morning of the Arts, the Fine Arts Assembly, and local feeder schools. All dance classes perform in the annual Spring Dance Concert and the NOVO Choreography Project and Benefit Performance. The St. Pius X Dance Company members were given the opportunity to letter in dance in 2000. Mrs. O’Connor served as the Fine Arts Department Chair from 1999 – 2013, and she was instrumental in the design and layout of the new dance room and Fine Arts wing established in January of 2005. In 2020, Madison Schrama joined the faculty as the Assistant Director of the program.
The program has grown in many ways over the past thirty years. And it will continue to provide our students with an excellent and well-rounded dance education!